Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/460

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filled up. The professed object of the work is to urge the necessity of a reform in the mode of philosophizing, to set forth the reasons why knowledge had not made greater progress, to draw back attention to the sources of knowledge which had been unwisely neglected, to discover other sources which were yet almost untouched, and to animate men in the undertaking of a prospect of the vast advantages which it offered. In the development of this plan all the leading portions of science are expanded in the most complete shape which they had at that time assumed; and improvements of a very wide and striking kind are proposed in some of the principal branches of study. Even if the work had no leading purposes it would have been highly valuable as a treasure of the most solid knowledge and soundest speculations of the time; even if it had contained no such details it would have been a work most remarkable for its general views and scope.

As a matter of fact the universities of the middle ages, far from neglecting science, were really scientific universities. Because the universities of the early nineteenth century occupied themselves almost exclusively with languages and especially formed students' minds by means of classical studies, we in our generation are prone to think that such linguistic studies formed the main portion of the curriculum of the universities in all the old times and particularly in the middle ages. The study of the classic languages, however, came into university life only after the renaissance. Before that the undergraduates of the universities had occupied themselves almost entirely with science. It was quite as much trouble to introduce linguistic studies into the old universities in the renaissance time to replace science, as it was to secure room for science by pushing out the classics in the modern time. Indeed the two revolutions in education are strikingly similar when studied in detail. Men who had been brought up on science before the renaissance were quiet sure that that formed the best possible means of developing the mind. In the early nineteenth century men who had been formed on the classics were quite as sure that science could not replace them with any success.

There is no pretense that this view of the medieval universities is a new idea in the history of education. Those who have known the old universities at first hand by the study of the actual books of their professors and by familiarity with their courses of study, have not been inclined to make the mistake of thinking that the medieval university neglected science. Professor Huxley in his "Inaugural Address as Rector of Aberdeen University" some thirty years ago stated very definitely his recognition of medieval devotion to science. His words are well worth remembering by all those who are accustomed to think of our time as the first in which the study of science was taken up seriously in our universities. Professor Huxley said:

The scholars of the medieval universities seem to have studied grammar, logic and rhetoric; arithmetic and geometry; astronomy, theology and music. Thus their work, however imperfect and faulty, judged by modern lights, it